Sunday, August 22, 2010
Mt. Baker is a Delight
For ten days, we had traveled in the provinces of Alberta, and British Columbia, and now would take a ferry over to Victoria on Vancouver Island, where we stayed at the famous Empress Hotel. It was here I had my first high tea because my wife thought it would be a history-in-the- making as she smiled.
While we were on this beautiful island we had a chance to visit the new Buschart Gardens which are world-famous. Even though gardens are not my cup-of-tea, I thoroughly enjoyed totally the beautiful flowers and fauna throughout the grounds.
After two days, we took a Ferry with one stop at the San Juan Islands, before we landed in Bellingham, Washington. Bellingham is the southern port of the Alaska Ferry, which departs and arrives from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal in Fairhaven.
On the shores of Bellingham Bay with Mount Baker as its majestic backdrop, which we saw for miles before arriving in Bellingham, which is the last major city before the Washington coastline meets the Canadian border. The City of Bellingham, which serves as the county seat of Whatcom County, is at the center of a uniquely picturesque area offering a rich variety of recreational, cultural, educational and economic activities. One of America’s Scenic Gems.
If you can take a drive from Bellingham to the majestic peak of Mt. Baker on State Route 542 you should, because it offers a step back in time. It’s an unpretentious route, winding through farmlands, rolling wooded hills, and small communities.
As the two-lane road climbs, the scenery grows in splendor and the air is crisper. The final 24 miles of the route are designated a U.S. National Forest National Scenic Byway, from the quaint village of Glacier to Artist Point at an elevation of 5,140 feet.
As you approach the end of the road, it’s like the best was saved for last. After driving the final miles in hair-pin curves, the stunning views of the North Cascades unfold in snow peaked glory. And then, your breath is taken away. You see Mt. Shuksan reflected in Mirror Lake, probably the most photographed mountain scene in the Western hemisphere.
Bellingham, Washington is about 90 miles north of Seattle, 21 miles south of the Canadian border and about 52 miles south of Vancouver, B.C. The City encompasses about 28 square miles, with north Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands to the west and snow-capped Mount Baker and the North Cascade Mountains to the east.
Bellingham’s active waterfront hosts a range of marine activities, with significant change on the horizon as area community leaders and residents consider options for development.
Afterwards, we boarded the bus in Bellingham and made our way back to Seattle where we would catch a flight back to Columbus Ohio where we had lived for nearly 20 years.
While we have done three Alaskan cruises, this was the first time that we have started at Seattle for a bus tour, which took us across Washington State where we stopped first at the beautiful city of Leavenworth, a Swiss village with many beautiful German and Swiss restaurants plus many souvenir shops from those European countries.
Our next stop was in Spokane, Washington after a couple hundred miles through grain fields as far as you could see before arriving for the night. The next day stayed at Kallipolis, Montana from where we took a trip over the Road-to-the-Sun passing over the Continental divide. This was a trip I would like to take again because it is beauty and multitude of wildlife making its way by Jackson glacier before to departing the Park. That night we stayed at the famous Many Glacier Lodge where beauty abounded. The next day we started north into Canada where we visited Banff Springs and Jasper national Parks, before returning back to Vancouver where we took the ferry across to Vancouver Island.
I sincerely enjoyed this part of the United States and Canada and believe it is some of the most beautiful areas of North America
“The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searches after every green thing.”-- Job 39:8
From my weekly column in the Farmington Press.
Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on http://altonloveless.blogspot.com/